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Letter to the Editor for Oct. 3, 2014

Don’t let guard down on forest road access

As we move out of the busiest “recreational” season of the year, summer, it’s always good to reflect on what open access to public lands is really about, and the current actions to restrict that access.

Too often folks only look at their access through a narrow prism of recreation, and we need to broaden that view considerably. We always need to remember that each person that enjoys open access to public lands as a recreational opportunity must supply up in our small remote towns that are our lifelines when the rest of us are “recreating.” Those communities’ survival are dependent on their ability to openly access the resources around them.

From firewood to heat their homes, to supplementary foods to feed their families, to remembrance sites where they have laid family to rest, the list goes on and on, these communities are directly tied to the landscape and their ability to access it.

Please remember, open access is not simply a recreational fight, it’s a fight of basic human rights to openly and freely access resources to sustain individual local residents and communities now and into the future.

Right now the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest supervisors (WWNF) office staff is developing the Sub-Part A report for the travel management plan behind closed doors. This “report” will determine what “they” feel is the minimum roads systems needed to manage our mountains, and the access to them. They have seen numerous request to open up the report development process and allow the public input prior to development of the report and the forest supervisor has stated the public will only see the report after its development, which disallows public participation in the development of the report. It is important you stand up and call for the WWNF to allow for your input into developing that report.

Thank you for everything you all have done in helping keep our mountains open for being active in the road closure issue as I for one appreciate you for it, and those that resided from these lands appreciate you for it.

John D. George


Letters to the Editor for Oct. 1, 2014

Wehby won’t go along with Obama doctrine

I urge voters in November to take a hard look at Monica Wehby, who is campaigning  to replace Senator Jeff Merkley. Unlike Senator Merkley, who supports and will vote for the UN Arms trade treaty which is being pushed by Obama on gun control, Monica supports our 2nd Amendment gun rights. Unlike Senator Merkley, Monica isn’t in the pocket of environmentalists that are destroying America’s economy by locking up more wilderness and wild lands, which Monica strenuously opposes. Senator Merkley signed on to a bill by Senator Wyden’s Forest Restoration bill that lets environmentalists appeal and appeal and appeal, locking up timber sales for years if not forever. While environmentalists get paid to appeal by Jeff and Senator Wyden because they left out a clause allowing just one appeal. A vote for Jeff Merkley is a vote for the Obama doctrine and of course Obamacare, which by the way Jeff voted for.  

Chuck Chase

Baker City

Wyden, Merkley votes violate Constitution

Each of our elected officials, at all levels of government, takes an oath before entering office that he or she will obey the U. S. Constitution in all of their official actions. There are no exceptions, not even for Oregon U.S. Senators Wyden and Merkley. It matters not what one’s personal preferences are, the Constitution is the LAW OF THE LAND! [The following “Freedom Index” information is available (click on “Voting Index” at TheNewAmerican.com).]

The record shows that during the 113rd Congress both Senator Merkley, who is up for reelection, and Wyden violated their sworn oath to obey the Constitution on 30 opportunities with 93 percent of their votes.  And many Americans wonder how our government got so far out of control. Without going into detail on each, here is a sampling of where both senators violated the Constitution.  

Debt Limit Suspension, S. 540;  Child Care, S. 1086;  Unemployment Benefits Extension, H.R. 3979;  Ukraine Aid, H.R. 4152;  Minimum Wage, S. 2223;  Border Security, S. 744;  Student Loans, S. 1238;  Immigration Reform, S. 744;  and Aid to Egypt, S. 1243.

There is no question whether the U.S. Constitution remains the law of the land until it is amended. These two senators representing Oregon have sworn to uphold it against all enemies, both foreign and domestic! But they each have repeatedly, and deliberately, violated their sworn oath. Call their behavior what you will but technically they each are clearly domestic “enemies” of the Constitution and therefore the Nation. Surely, in all of Oregon we can find two candidates to replace them that will take their oath of office seriously. We are clearly obligated to try. 

Jasper Coombes


Letters to the Editor for Sept. 29, 2014

Time for change in D.C.: Vote for Monica Wehby

As election time rolls around again, it’s time to give some thought to the direction you want your local, state and national politics to follow.

After having sent 33 letters to Senator Merkley since 2009 on many different  issues from global warming to unemployment benefits, I find that the response to my concerns is curiously consistent with someone who has no interest in the needs of his constituency.  He has returned the following response to almost every single contact or query I have sent to him. “While we may disagree, I value knowing your views on this important matter and appreciate the opportunity to share my perspective.”

 I think it’s time for a major change in our representation in Washington, D.C. It  would be quite a pleasant change to have someone who shares some of our common values. I have heard some people have expressed concerns about Dr. Wehby’s  stance on some social issues. No one person can be 100 percent acceptable to all people, but I can say that she follows more of my personal beliefs than anyone else running for the position. Dr. Wehby has spent hundreds of hours visiting, talking to and learning about local issues.

When was the last time you sat down to a casual breakfast or social gathering with Senator Merkley? I’d be willing to bet the answer is “never.” I have personally spent many hours at events here in Baker County where Dr. Wehby has spent her time getting to know the needs of Eastern Oregon on a one-to-one basis. She listens and does not ignore the people.              

Vote for Dr. Monica Wehby for U.S. Senator.

Jim Longwell

Baker City

School bomb threats aren’t the real danger

Both the Baker County Press and the Baker City Herald have editorials about the recent threat of a bomb in school and have invited comments. I have a few.

The problem doesn’t seem to me to be one of out-of-control juveniles but rather one of over-controlling nanny state adults who are thinking-challenged.  Let’s take a few facts and look at them. I guess you could call a bomb threat an act of terrorism or at least it is treated as such with police responses, shutdowns and lockdowns and all the new terms of the new nanny state where people can’t think anymore without asking somebody in “authority.”

First fact, serious terrorists fly planes into buildings, bomb buildings, shoot people etc. and then take credit afterwards. They don’t leave a note saying this place is going to blow up.  In all the thousands of school bombing threats nationwide over the past several years none have happened.  There have been millions spent on police overtime and lost school time but no explosions.  

In the local case I would make the assumption that the teachers and everyone else involved had a damned good idea who made the threat, probably knew the kid couldn’t make breakfast let alone a bomb but still opted to go through the “let’s pretend we have a threat” scenario.  

  What should have happened is the kid should have been called to the principal’s office. Remember the old days when going to the principal’s office was a real threat?  

With real threats in the world like ISIS, and the open borders it’s time to grow up and refocus. School policy should be to ignore bomb threats.  I know, scares the hell out of you but you will get used to it and things can return to normal after a while.

Steve Culley


Don’t let billionaires take over our elections

Have you seen all those slick Richardson and Wehby signs that have sprouted up around town? As Dan Martin noted in his recent letter, Koch and ALEC have come to town! That is Koch brothers’ money and ALEC’s agenda have landed in little ol’ Baker County.

The famous Koch billionaires have been providing primary funding for the campaigns to replace our two people’s representatives, Gov. John Kitzhaber and Sen. Jeff Merkley, with their corporate representatives. And then implement ALEC’s mission to replace laws and regulations by and for the people with those by and for the corporations.

Kitzhaber and Merkley are working for a people’s agenda that includes among other needs supporting the middle class with living wages and affordable higher education, getting corporate money out of politics, providing affordable health care for all.

ALEC wants to replace Kitzhaber as one of four governors who stand in the way of implementing their state legislative agenda throughout the 50 states. They want to replace Merkley to gain control of the Senate so that their agenda for corporate control is implemented at the federal level. Merkley has stood in the way of ALEC’s pursuit to destroy medicare and social security.

Are we going to let out-of town-money and greedy corporate interests defeat our two excellent people’s representatives? Get registered! REGISTER and VOTE. Vote to protect the people’s interests and let the corporatists know that our government is “of the people, by the people, for the people.” 

Ramon Lara

Baker City

Letters to the Editor for Sept. 24, 2014

Back Kitzhaber, Merkley to restore victory for common man

“We all do well, when we all do well.”  This is how master filmmaker Ken Burns encapsulates the core insights and beliefs of Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor in his epic documentary “The Roosevelts.”  (If you missed it, it’s online on PBS.org through Sept. 28.)

“We all do well, when we all do well.” These seemingly simple words are profoundly inspiring if we let them enter our hearts and inform us. And they can breathe life and hope into even the most cynical and despairing among us, as we recall how almost everyone prospered during 1950s and 1960s, when the results of the Roosevelts’ phenomenal leadership reached full fruition. 

And, yes, the words should also jolt us awake, as we compare our country today with the way we were back then. In the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, one wage earner could provide for an entire family; we built the interstate highway system; tuition at our state colleges was virtually zero; we instituted Medicare; and there was the promise of even better things to come for future generations. Top marginal income taxes on the wealthy were over 90 percent, but most everyone prospered as those taxes were converted into beneficial spending and economic growth.

Today, government has stepped back, as jobs have been shipped overseas or automated; wages have stagnated for 35 years, and the profits have gone to the top one percent who pay minimal taxes. Predatory mortgage loans and credit cards have bankrupted many; unregulated big banks triggered the Great Recession; and college tuition and user fees have skyrocketed.

Even so, one of our great political parties, led by ideology and wealth, is advocating even greater sacrifice and loss, as evidenced by the front-page interview of Monica Wehby in the Record-Courier on Sept. 18, in which she twice emphasized the need to “get government out of our lives as much as possible.”

Let us, together, restore the victory for the common man won by the Roosevelts. Google “Governor John Kitzhaber on the issues” and Google “U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley working for the middle class” to learn more.

Marshall McComb

Baker City

The slippery slope of insurance coverage exemptions

I read, with interest, Pete Sundin’s letter re: The Little Sisters of the Poor doing good works and being required to comply with the mandate to provide to all its employees health insurance including the provision of birth control. First and foremost, employers do not have the right to know how their employees use the health care they are provided. That information is only for doctors and their patients to know; NOT the employers. 

Secondly, if the Affordable Health Care act restricts coverage to any medical problem, then birth control will lead the insurers to not provide coverage for a broken leg, a heart attack, or a cancerous nodule. The insurance companies are very interested in taking our money while they are not as enthusiastic about paying money out to someone who needs medical care.

Give ’em an inch, they’ll take a mile. 

Iva M. Mace

Baker City

Letters to the Editor for Sept. 22, 2014

Obamacare hurting, not helping, downtrodden

At the 62nd National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama said, “Our faith teaches us that in the face of suffering, we can’t stand idly by, and that we must be the Good Samaritan.” The Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic charity, is certainly one organization which is acting as the Good Samaritan. This group of women “offer to the neediest elderly of every race and religion a home where they will be welcomed as Christ, cared for as family, and accompanied with dignity until God calls them home to himself” (quoting from the charity’s mission statement).

Yet the Obama administration insists that this charity must comply with the mandate to provide to all of its employees health insurance including contraceptives and abortifacients or face annual fines of around $2.5 million. This places the Little Sisters in a terrible dilemma.  They cannot in good conscience do as ordered, yet an annual fine of that magnitude would seriously impede their ability to relieve suffering among the elderly poor.

So the Little Sisters is suing the Obama Administration, saying that their First Amendment rights of freedom of worship are being violated. And they are not alone. The HHS mandate has brought on a veritable Niagara of lawsuits from similar Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and other charitable organizations, groups which do not stand idly by in the face of suffering.

Now the Obama Administration has shown no indication that it intends to follow the letter of the law in regards to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). It freely grants exceptions and issues revisions as it sees fit. But not for the Little Sisters of the Poor nor all similar groups which look after society’s losers. With these charities, the administration is adamant. They must do as directed or face the consequences.

Politicians, including our president, make a lot of noise about their concern for the poor and downtrodden, yet the current administration is acting as a huge impediment for those who actually go out and do good. Obviously something is at work here besides concern for the destitute.?

Pete Sundin

Baker City

Merkley works for people, not corporations

Gary McManus set out to smear Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton (Baker City Herald, Sept. 10) by “proving” they are both Socialists, a bit of nincompoopery most famously peddled by Rush Limbaugh. Smearing is what tar brush artists do when they have no real “bullets” to smirch with.

Then he abruptly turns to attack Jeff Merkley, which shows the hand of the Koch brothers and the ALEC conspiracy, which is a real and very sinister conspiracy and not merely an election year boo word.

One way you can tell, if you have no other, if your legislator is a good one is if the ALEC conspiracy targets him. This year they have Jeff in their sights. And when you have a good one like Jeff Merkley you defend him; you don’t attack him, for Pete’s sake! He has worked like a horse for ordinary people like me and you. And even for ungrateful people who may be attacking  him. Because he doesn’t seem very expert at it, Gary’s attack on Jeff may seem like a petty pee-on-his-leg smear. But if he is singing for ALEC and the Kochs, who spend millions to destroy those politicians who work for the people instead of for the corporations, I have another and even greater reason for defending him.

Jeff has turned out to be the kind of politician we always hope to get when we go to vote. And anyone who isn’t a millionaire should be supporting him. He has been working to protect Social Security and Medicare from those turkeys who want to either abolish or privatize those services. And Jeff is front among those seeking to rein in those greedy corporate pirates who are screwing us blind every day. And he works hard as anyone for jobs. If and when we ever get a national full employment bill you will probably have Jeff to thank. He is the people’s guy, just like he says in his letters. And he was before the election season, too. So, neighbors, get registered if you need to, and be sure to vote Jeff back in.

Dan Martin

Baker City

Letters to the Editor for Sept. 15, 2014

Walden’s record on Constitution is lacking

Congressman Greg Walden is asking Oregon voters to send him back to Congress for yet another term. Before we do that we should compare his existing voting record with the requirements of the U.S. Constitution, which is still the law of the land. Each elected public official from the president on down has sworn, that is SWORN, to abide by the Constitution in fulfilling the duties of the office for which he or she was elected. According to information contained in the Jan. 6, 2014, and July 28, 2014, editions of the “New American” publication, in which each bill involving a constitutional issue is  considered, Mr. Walden scored 53 percent. This indicates that he violated his oath to obey the Constitution roughly half the time. Some examples of his unconstitutional votes:

• H.R. 1960, June 13, 2013, voted to permit indefinite military detention of prisoners without trial. 

• H.R. 1947, June 20, 2013, voted for the Farm and Food Programs bill which would spend nearly $1 trillion tax dollars on federal food programs which is not allowed under the Constitution.

• H.R. 2397, Sept. 6, 2013, voted against an amendment that would prohibit the government from collecting  information on individuals not suspected of crimes.

• H.R. 4435, May 22, 2014, voted for indefinite military detention of any person detained under the Authorization for the use of military force authority in the United States.

Mr. Walden also voted, in violation of the Constitution for: Ukraine Aid, H. R. 4152; Use of military force, H.R. 4435;  Omnibus Appropriations bill, HR 3547; and the  Farm and Food Programs, H.R. 2642. 

For an individual who claims to, and has sworn to, uphold the U.S. Constitution, this is a very poor record. Shouldn’t we attempt to find a candidate for that office who will do what the law requires and what he or she has sworn to do? Let us try!

Jasper Coombes


Americans need to recognize dirty political tricks

Gary McManus’ recent letter to the editor seems to be based on information he got off the Internet that Snopes.com — the mythbuster website — has called “FALSE.”

In that letter McManus attributes to Saul Alinsky “eight rules to create a socialist state.”  

It took me just minutes to find out that Saul Alinsky, who has been dead since 1972, did not create those “eight rules” that McManus lists. The misinformation came from the Internet and smacks of political dirty tricks that the public finds so distasteful.  

I’m writing as someone who recently was the target of political dirty tricks, when local persons, pretending to be me on Facebook, carried on Facebook conversations with about two dozen unsuspecting Baker City citizens, organizations, and businesses, including, among others, two of our local newspapers, a 5J board member, and a couple of my next door neighbors. 

McManus pleads for “all Americans to wake up.” Yes, I agree! 

Gary Dielman

Baker City

Coles made right decision to not run for re-election

This letter is prompted by your recent item about city councilman Roger Coles who says it is time for him to “move on.”  I agree, it is time.

 The highlights of his swan song are these:

 “The budget boards have really been phenomenal. I think they’ve worked hard to keep the financial health of the city in check...” That statement from Coles assumes that he and other phenoms saved the city from financial deficit. That is not true and never has been. City staff has traditionally ended each fiscal year with a surplus.

 “I think you have people with different philosophies. You got people who are, however it is handled, it’s fine. Then you have people asking about accountability and responsibility.”  Mr. Coles counts himself as responsible and regards city staff as irresponsible. That is not true either. While Mr.  Coles’ place of business is just across the street from City Hall, he has appeared only one time to meet with City Manager Mike Kee.  He mostly berates city workers in public at council meetings, facts or no facts.

 “I wasn’t a person to sit there and be willing to rubber stamp what was put in front of me.”  That is true, he wasn’t.  His favorite mantra has been, “I can’t buy into that.” Among the efforts he could not buy into was the effort to guard against cryptosporidium in our water supply. When the crypto outbreak did occur, Coles pretended that he had advocated for a filtering system all along. But he repeatedly voted against protection. And now, years and one outbreak later, we are building a system. Finally, we have bought into it.

Roger Coles deserves our thanks for his willingness to serve on the council. He is not entitled to much credit for the manner in which he has done so.

Milo Pope

Baker City

Letter to the Editor for Sept. 10, 2014

Merkley needs to be voted out of office

 Saul Alinsky was a radical that graduated from the University of Chicago and wrote two books, “Rules For Radicals,” and “Reveille for Radicals,” the subject being  on how to create a socialist state. He died in 1972 but his writings still go on. Hillary Clinton did her college thesis on Alinsky writings and Obama writes about him in his books. Alinsky advocated eight rules to create a socialist state, the first being the most important.

1) Healthcare: Control healthcare and you control the people.

2) Poverty: Increase the poverty level as high as possible. Poor people are easier to control and will not fight back if you are providing everything for them to live.

3) Debt: Increase the debt to an unsustainable level. That way you are able to increase taxes, and this will produce more poverty.

4) Gun control: Remove the ability to defend themselves from the government. That way you are able to create a police state.

5) Welfare: Take control of every aspect of their lives (food, housing and income).

6) Education: Take control of what people read and listen to. Take control of what children learn in school.

7) Religion: Remove the belief in God from the government and schools.

8) Class welfare: Divide the people into the wealthy and poor. This will cause more discontent and it will be easier to tax the wealthy with the support of the poor.

Does any of this sound like what is happening in the United States? It is time for all Americans to wake up and vote the big government, socialist leaning politicians out of office. Senator Merkley has voted with the Obama agenda about 96 percent of the time.

It’s time for him to be voted out of office!

Gary McManus

Baker City

Letter to the Editor for Sept. 5, 2014

Obama does nothing to keep gas prices down

Our local Democratic official says that there is no conspiracy by the Obama Administration to jack up gasoline prices, but that those prices are set by a balance between supply and demand. That is true enough as far as it goes — there is no conspiracy. But the fact remains that high energy prices are a stated policy of our Democratic president. In 2008, then-Senator Obama said that his energy policies “would necessarily cause energy prices to skyrocket.” He has since learned not to be quite so candid, but his policies are unchanged; he just hopes that you don’t notice them.

Motor fuel prices are determined by a balance between supply and demand. The Obama administration actively works to diminish the supply side of that equation, and so cause their price to increase. When running for re-election, he tried to take credit for the fact that oil and natural gas production in the United States has greatly increased in the past few years. However, all of that increase is coming from state and private lands. Production on federal lands has diminished every year of his administration, and continues to do so.

He and his fellow Democrats work to depress the supply of motor fuels by making huge areas of the country absolutely off limits for oil and gas production — offshore areas off both coastlines, the North Slope of Alaska, etc. On federal lands, applications for new oil leases move through the Byzantine federal bureaucracy at an excruciatingly slow pace.

Our local Democratic official says that during the last year of the Bush Administration, gasoline prices topped $4 a gallon. That also is true. But the only reason that motor fuel prices aren’t even higher today is because our supply situation is so much better now than it was back then. Despite the best efforts of the president and his Democratic allies, we are still only paying between $3 and $4 a gallon. What would gasoline prices be if the Obama Administration was working to increase our country’s oil production, rather than decrease it?

Pete Sundin

Baker City

Letter to the Editor for Sept. 3, 2014

Forest Service can’t hide its road closure plans

The Blue Mountain Forest Plan Revision may be under fire, it could also be said, “plan under water.”  Fire or water, the so-called proposal needs to be aborted. Baker County Commission Chair Fred Warner, referred to the 1,300-page document as a “tomb of paper.” Countless people will concur.

Is it a misconception that the forest plan closes roads and trails? “Desired Conditions” is the core component in the plan.   The forest plan is not a simple four-volume document. It may not say “road closures,” but the desired conditions can only be met by closures.  The USFS know that… but they continue to sing their song of denial.  

 Eleven county governments in Eastern Oregon, supported by numerous city governments, organizations, and countless individuals have voiced strong opposition to the forest plan.  Glancing at an Oregon map, 11 counties make up a solid quarter of the state.  The word “substantive” aptly applies to the amount of opposition.

Rhetoric coming from the Forest Service in regards to the BMFPR, is reminiscent of the Travel Management, debate of two years ago.  Same attack against public resources under a new term.

Two days after the BMFRP comments deadline, TMP launched the “existing condition road maps.” Once again we are being told, “This request is not about whether a road or motorized trail should be open or closed.”  This is simply the USFS playing more of their bait-and-switch wordgames.  I don’t believe it. How can anyone that has been engaged with this process during the past 15 years believe this?  The USFS seems to think that the more they repeat this rhetoric, they can make us believe it. Where is this all going? I see designated routes and trails and entire seasonal closures where we once had free access. I feel much like a white mouse in a laboratory being picked up by the tail and dropped in a maze. 

Wanda Ballard

Baker City

Letter to the Editor for Sept. 1, 2014

No golf course = no visit from President Obama

If any readers wonder why President Obama has not gone to Ferguson, Missouri, to try to calm down the rioting crowds, it is because Ferguson does not have a golf course. What a pity!

Virginia Kostol

Baker City

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